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Staten Island Ferry terminal turns shelter

Stranded commuters and homeless take refuge

Desolate and dry: Staten Island Ferry Terminal on Monday afternoon. Photo: Nathaniel Herz

For those who didn’t want to hunker down in a shelter in Lower Manhattan in advance of Hurricane Sandy, the city Department of Transportation offered another option: the Staten Island Ferry’s Whitehall Terminal.

Monitored by several NYPD and private security officers, the terminal offered a warm, dry, quiet refuge for about 25 people this afternoon.

Some appeared to be homeless, with their belongings piled beside them in bags or carts. Others, like Nathan Woods, were simply marooned in Manhattan on their way home from work.

“Ain’t that bad,” said Woods, sitting on the floor reading the newspaper with his back to the churning waters of New York harbor. “I took a little nap… Everything’s pretty cool–everybody’s sleeping, chilling ”

Woods said he got stuck on his way back to Staten Island from his shift in the Bronx at St. Barnabas Hospital, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shut down the city’s transportation system.

He’d been at the terminal for hours, and by the looks of it, others had, too. Some of the people camped out on benches on the upper level had fallen asleep.

A police officer at the terminal said the building had been host to some 60 hurricane refugees earlier in the day, but that those numbers had dwindled after homeless outreach workers had come through and moved some people to a nearby shelter on Grand St.

Woods confirmed that, saying: “One lady was talking to herself, but the police came and took her to a shelter.”

It was unclear if the terminal would remain open for the duration of the hurricane. The Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.